Can something as simple as marking the rungs of a barbed-wire fence save lives of pronghorn antelope, raptors and other species? Experts believe so, and a first-of-its kind project in Grand Teton National Park has led the way in taking action to prevent needless wildlife deaths.
Wildlife will be able better able to avoid the danger of barbed-wire fences along an important migration corridor, thanks to a highly successful Grand Teton Field Office partnership with the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation (JHWF) and our corporate sponsor, Nature Valley in recent months. The project is the first of its kind in Wyoming, taking place in the Gros Ventre Mountain Range on the eastern boundary of Grand Teton National Park. The goal is to increase the visibility of a fence that stands in the historic migration route of pronghorn antelope known as the Path of the Pronghorn within one of four threatened state lands sections within Grand Teton National Park.
Just as flappers on power lines protect birds, the fence-marking project protects wildlife on the ground. The goal is to mitigate the adverse impact of four‐strand barbed-wire fence by increasing its visibility to pronghorn, elk and deer, and to decrease the hazards posed by this potentially lethal obstacle to migration. Fences in the area directly affect a threatened band of pronghorn that have used the corridor for spring and fall migrations for over 6,000 years. In addition, marking fences has benefitted many other species of ungulates, as well as threatened birds such as sage grouse, and iconic raptors such as red tail hawks; both regular victims of bird strikes and mortalities resulting from collisions with barbed-wire fences.
Dozens of volunteers have worked their way through sagebrush, aspens and uneven terrain to mark 15 miles of barbed-wire fence using small pieces of cut vinyl siding, strategically hung on in an alternating pattern on strands of wire. Although more research is needed to definitively document the benefits of the fence marking technique, biologists have noted significant decreases in mortality from pilot projects in other states utilizing this technique.
Projects like these make a quick difference and couldn’t happen without our volunteers, our partnerships with local and regional organizations, and our national sponsors, including Nature Valley. Together, we create lasting, on-the-ground results and the satisfaction that we have helped preserve the pronghorn’s migration route, as well as Teton Park’s rich variety of wildlife.
Read more about NPCA's efforts to restore the unique long-distance migration and improve winter habitat for the few remaining pronghorn of Yellowstone National Park.